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TV Review: The Gruffalo’s Child

31 Dec

Image: BBC

The short film which I’m reviewing today has a slightly younger target audience than my usual subjects, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was one of the best things that I watched all Christmas. I could say something pithy about my inner child here, but actually I think it has more to do with the fact that it’s narrated by Helena Bonham Carter (say what you like, in my eyes the woman can do no wrong!).

The Gruffalo’s Child is based on the picture book by Julia Donaldson and is the sequel to her bestselling book turned short film The Gruffalo. For those who haven’t seen that, watch it before reading: it’s wonderful, and the sequel won’t make much sense without having seen it! And the all-star cast, including Rob Brydon as Snake, Robbie Coltrane as the eponymous Gruffalo and James Cordon as the quick-witted hero Mouse, returns for the sequel, joined by Shirley Henderson as the Gruffalo’s Child.

At the beginning of the film, the Gruffalo tells his daughter the story of the Big Bad Mouse, making it clear that he has lived in fear of the tiny creature since the end of the original. But his child, less fearful and more sceptical than her father (and perhaps believing the story to be no more than a cautionary tale to keep her out of the woods), sets off to find this terrifying creature, meeting our old friends Snake, Owl and Fox along the way. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say this: Mouse proves to be just as adept at thinking on his feet as in the original, with hilarious results.

Created for children though it may be, the charming illustrations and delightful rhymes of The Gruffalo’s Child is a treat for people of all ages. (And there was me thinking that I could finish this review without being pithy!)

The Gruffalo’s Child can be viewed on BBC iPlayer until 7:54PM on Friday 6th January.

Film Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

20 Jul

(This is a review, therefore references to events in the film will be made and if you haven’t seen it you are liable to be spoiled. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!)

Last week I saw the last Harry Potter film. Harry Potter being something which my friends and I grew up with, we naturally decided to go to the midnight showing on July 14th (we would have also gone to the world premiere in Trafalgar Square, were it not for WB’s ridiculous wristband policy and the fact that we weren’t quite dedicated enough to camp in the rain without a tent). The experience itself was fantastic: some people screamed, lots of people dressed up, and everyone applauded at the end. But once the hype had faded, what did we think of the film itself?

Reactions from my friends varied from “my childhood is now complete” to “I really don’t care about half a book”, but the most apt description I heard was that “it was a good film, if you ignore the book.”

This, in my opinion, is good advice when watching any of the films. No matter how close they stay to the films, there will always be changes made, scenes cut (and invariably the ones which you most wanted to see come alive on the screen), moments added for the sake of extra drama. If you go into the cinema determined not to enjoy the film unless it is a carbon copy of the book then, quite frankly, you’re wasting your money. And missing out on what could be a very enjoyable two hours.

The highlight of the film is, of course, the adult characters. Someone (and I’m afraid I really can’t be any more specific than that) once described the films as a club for veteran British actors, and it’s certainly these actors that make the films for me. In this film it was Alan Rickman who stole the show as Snape, although Maggie Smith as McGonagall came in a very close second. And of course Helena Bonham Carter (who I could write an essay about usually, so be grateful that she doesn’t appear more in this particular film) as Hermione-pretending-to-be-Bellatrix, along with Julie Walters, David Thewlis, and a whole host of others.

The younger cast members usually irritate me, but in this installment I found them less annoying than usual (although the scene in which Harry and Ginny are re-united did grate a little). Rupert Grint and Emma Watson managed to make their kiss look much less awkward than any of Daniel Radcliffe’s on-screen attempts, and Evanna Lynch sparkled as usual, managing to make Luna Lovegood even more dippy and endearing than in the books.

Although the plot has been adapted for the purposes of what can only be described as cinematic showing off (as anyone who has seen the part of the trailer in which Harry and Voldemort appear to fall off a building will know), on the whole it remains true to the books. Unfortunately, this includes the epilogue, the only redeeming feature of which is the comedy beards which all the men are now sporting. But in general it was a wonderful film, and a great conclusion that this particular chapter of my childhood.